I’m told that, by some kind of symbiosis, some couples at some point begin to look alike, but nobody warned me about any tendency toward combo dressing.
It’s happening more often to us now, after being a couple for 22 years, seven of those licensed.
But nothing to worry about. My husband and I have been coming out of our condominium wearing same-color clothes with minimum damage to our reputation or self-esteem.
Sometimes it hits us only when we step into the elevator and are confronted with our reflection in the full-length mirror, dressed like twins, again.
As a result, we’d be laughing all the way down the six floors to our lobby. And if by chance we had not become aware of it, we could always count on the lady concierge who somehow seems to get a real kick out of it: “Uy, Ma’am, pareho na naman kayo ng kulay ni sir!”
The first time it happened, Lani, my maid and self-appointed fashion police—to whom I am beholden for often saving me from ridicule for, say, stepping out in a mismatched pair of shoes ora sleeve blouse worn inside out, with all manner of tag lolling out—didn’t say anything, in case the twin look had been planned. When Vergel himself noticed, it was usually too late for remedy. Resigned to our fate, he asked me, “Saan ba tayo kakanta?”—it has become his standard line for the situation.
I’m told that, by some kind of symbiosis, some couples at some point begin to look alike, but nobody warned me about any tendency toward combo dressing. Someone is heard to theorize that after a long-time exposure to each other, couples get the same vibes, such that at certain times they are attracted to the same colors, colors being vibrations in themselves.
Like-mindedness, I would suppose, is another manifestation, which, with us, is publicly revealed in our writings (an alert to anyone who might want to target us for plagiarism). As columnists, we sometimes take on the same subjects and, if not in exactly the same way, not in different ways.
Only early this month, we both wrote about Jesse Robredo (written with the same deadline, Friday), and I had to compare to make sure we weren’t saying the same things, much less using the same words and phrases. Vergel is never worried, convinced we have enough differences—nuanced differences—in perspectives. I’ll take that as a compliment. Still, it’s easy enough to see how and where our interests merge and mingle.
Sex and love
It seemed to me at first a bit of a leap, though, that a British finance man with a Masters from Oxford was coauthoring with a wife with a Doctorate in Psychology two books of advice on sex and love and all the complications they cause, especially when undertaken illicitly or interracially or with one sort of baggage or another.
That’s Jeremy Baer, once global head of ship finance at Lloyds, and our own Margie Holmes. Anyway, I do confess I got a mature, explicit, indeed no-holds-barred, sex education from their books, “Love Triangles” and “Imported Love.”
At their launch, earlier this year, Margie explained how they found themselves coworking in her field of expertise, cowriting newspaper columns and now coauthoring books. She said she precisely had pushed her husband into this sort of collaboration because, in her own professional estimation, she believed he had inputs deserving to be heard.
In her “Acknowledgements” for “Love Triangles,” Margie thanks her newspapers for “allowing her to mention her husband, hopefully in not too many columns.”
With me as well, it’s a habit impossible to stop. In fact, I have a hard time keeping my husband out of anything. I blame it on the kind of husband he is—eclectically knowledgeable and interested, astute and funny. As Christine confesses about the Phantom of the Opera, he is inside my mind.
Vergel and I are now ourselves putting together a collection of my essays—in our case, I write and he edits and draws illustrations. Friends familiar with his caricatures, like Karina Bolasco of Anvil, think he’s quite adept at character assassination by pen and ink—until, of course, he turns on them—but probably wonder how he would do with situational sketches. I can assure everyone, he is just as merciless. We are, as anyone can imagine, having a time of it.
Sometimes it just can’t be helped that couples get into each other’s works, becoming, in fact, their own best critics. Wearing the same color is simply one manifestation of the magical bonding process of looking and thinking alike. After reading the same books, watching the same TV shows and movies, and eating the same food, what else can happen?
Indeed, for us, the process goes further and deeper—irreversibly, inexorably. We are happily stuck with one another, way past what Vergel calls “the point of no retreat.”